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litl) an Introduction 



Heaven doth with us as we with torches do. 

Not light them for themselves ; for if our virtues 

Did not go forth of us, 't were all alike 

As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touched 

But to fine issues. 





Copyright, 1886, 
By Ticknor and Company. 

All rights reserved. 

JHnifrfrsttD ^Bress : 
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge. 


To the Sorrowing, Life-weary, and Sin-laden ; to all 

who may find in these pages " that cup of 

strength in some great agony" — 

STfns little 3Soofc fs Enscrtbett, 

with an earnest trust that, though it contain great 

potency for pain, its deeper message is one of 

ifispiration, strength, comfort, and that 

Peace of God which passeth 

all understanding. 


The following remarkable story of a per- 
sonal experience is written by a lady who is 
herself firmly persuaded of its reality. I feel 
bound to testify that the writer is regarded by 
many intelligent and cultivated men and women, 
who are her personal friends, as sincere, truth- 
ful, and conscientious. I will add that she has 
had no connection with so-called u Spiritualism," 
and is unacquainted with an}' of the profes- 
sional mediums. Her report, therefore, is an 
independent one, and deserves nttention from 
those engaged in investigating this occult Bor- 
derland, where beings of the other world are 
reported as coming into relations with the in- 
habitants of our own. According to the view 
of this writer, those who thus present them- 


selves may often be in a low state, having 
missed their way upward and needing advice 
and encouragement from those still in the 
body. The moral tone and influence of this 
little book cannot but be useful even to those 
who are not prepared either to accept or reject 
its conclusions. 

James Freeman Clarke. 
January 1, 1886. 

Lo, at length the True Light! Light for 
every man born into the world, kindling the 
faces of them that receive it, till they become 
the children of God ! 

Cease, blinding glories of the heavens, which 
none could see and live ! 

Cease, gross darkness of the earth, where 
the righteous put forth their hands and fear ! 

The veil between is taken away, and the 
mingling dayspring comes. 

No longer is the dwelling of Eternal Life 
too bright above, and the perishable world too 
dark below. No more strangers and exiles, 
but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the 
household of God. For Thou hast made one 
family, there and here, one living communion 
of seen and unseen. We had said, " Thou 


layest men fast in everlasting sleep ; " but lo, 
they sleep into everlasting waking ! 

Blessed be the Eternal, who giveth beauty 
for ashes, and the garment of praise for the 
spirit of heaviness ! 


My dear Friend, — You ask nie why I 
do not tell you more of myself, and let you 
keep near to my inner life. Perhaps your 
question is the key to my long silences, 
for I cannot write superficially to you, and 
it is not easy to speak, much less to write, 
out of the depths. 

But since our separation is likely to be a 
permanent one, I will try to live in the 
spirit with you, and in the future to give 
you at least some glimpses of my deeper 


Again, you tell me that my letters " hint 
of some rare gift," reminding you of strange 
sayings in my childhood. Is it so ? Be- 
ginning now to realize that I am in a way 
unlike those about me, I speak less spon- 
taneously, though not without an inward 
protest. " Quench not the spirit " con- 
tinually reproaches me when I am silent, 
and yet would so gladly speak the word of 
assurance and comfort. 

It seems strange to me that those who 
profess to believe in the immortal life, and 
to treasure the Bible, where angels ascend- 
ing and descending hold familiar converse 
with men, and who though believing in the 
transfiguration and resurrection of Jesus, 
are so averse to the idea of a continued 
communication between the two worlds, 
and receive with coldness and unfaith the 


assurance that the friend called dead stands 
beside them most keenly alive. Thus I 
have learned silence. But for how long? 
I wait the growth of this wonder-seed. 
Something whispers to me that it shall bear 
precious fruit, from which may be distilled 
drops of healing for the sin-sick and sor- 
rowing. How grateful I am that I have 
you to wait and watch with me ! 

I have read of late many scientific books, 
but meet with nothing that will in any 
way account for what comes to me. Dr. 
Carpenter's "unconscious cerebration" is 
to my mind insufficient and unsatisfac- 
tory; but among the spiritual gifts enumer- 
ated by Saint Paul we find that of sight, 
and his simple recognition of it as a 
spiritual faculty seems both natural and 


You ask what I know of Spiritualism. 
Nothing whatever from my own experi- 
ence, never having seen a public medium or 
read any Spiritualistic literature, as I have 
wished my mind unbiassed by their views. 
The little I have heard through friends is 
distasteful to me. I am reluctant to be- 
lieve that one can command the presence 
of a number of unknown spirits, or that 
such intercourse could be any gratifica- 
tion to earnest souls. " The spirit bloweth 
where it listeth ; " and these experiences 
come to me or are withheld, "not as I 

That Spiritualism, in its purest and high- 
est sense, is God's new dispensation to 
mankind, I do believe; and though tares 
are springing up with the wheat, a goodly 
harvest will in time be realized for the 


spiritual needs of the world. Are we not 
ready for it ? Our best teaching is preg- 
nant with this prophecy ; and the world of 
thought, like the earth in these spring- 
days, seems quivering with expectancy, 
thrilled with the consciousness of a growth 
which may burst into a flood of blossom 
while we watch. 

You know how busy my girlhood was. 
My days continue to be filled to over- 
flowing with practical duties, moments for 
reading being snatched from the common 
round of many cares. 

I cannot think of this " open vision " as 
in the least unnatural, it is so a part of 
my daily life, — a glowing thread of light 
interwoven with its sombre tones. Very 
often, wiien with friends or strangers, I 
see their dear ones with them, frequently 


those whom I have not known in this 
life. For instance, this afternoon, while 
sitting with a friend, I saw upon her 
knee the little girl whom she has lost, 
caressing her unconscious mother most 

I spoke of the child, and of the comfort 
in the thought that our dead are often with 
us; but she, poor soul, shrank from this 
idea. She would not like to feel that a dis- 
embodied spirit was near her, it would give 
her no pleasure, but make her nervous. 
She rather clung to the belief in a future 
resurrection day ; but if it were true that 
death is only the portal to the higher life, 
even then she could not believe the dead 
were near the earth, but in that happy 
land, far, far away. And so I feel as 
if walking with those born blind, who 


cannot comprehend the beauty of sunshine 
and sweet faces. 

And yet I know that others have this 
gift, although it would seem to be rare. 
My father had it in a less degree, and 
my brother sees, but does not hear. 
We frequently see the same spirit simul- 

I have not answered your question, 
" How do they look to you ? Like ghostly 
shadows ? " Not at all ; and yet their 
conditions are so various, one might as 
easily describe in one term what flowers 
with their infinite variety of color and text- 
ure look like. Some appear as if still in the 
flesh, so that I have sometimes been puzzled ; 
others appear to have become deformed, or 
almost animal ; and then there are those 
with shining garments and an atmosphere 


that suggests cathedral music and sunshine 
streaming through stained glass. I usually 
see the light or atmosphere first, — some- 
times faint or cloudy, and occasionally over- 
poweringly bright and beautiful. 

Clothes ■? Yes. Some seem still to cling 
to the latest fashions, while the more spir- 
itual are clad in flowing robes of light of 
various hues and degrees of purity. 

You know that this gift dates back to my 
earliest recollections. My mother left me 
when a baby, and yet I have always known 
her face. I remember, once, when quite a 
little child, following her, as I thought ; and 
when she disappeared, not understanding, 
I ran, thinking to overtake her, till quite 
exhausted. I thought she lived in the 
moon, and I always felt safe and happy 


in the moonlight, because, I understand 
now, her spiritual atmosphere is like moon- 
light. I often wake to find her sitting 
by my bedside, and when I am in pain 
or trouble she is much with me. Once 
she reproved me for my mood, and bade 
me read a poem, telling me what book to 
find it in, the page and author. I had 
never seen or heard of it ; but it was there, 
just what I needed. 

I feel as if my father's eyes were always 
upon me. When I was about ten years old 
I had set my room in order one Saturday 
morning, and being in haste to get out, had 
swept around the rug, and dusted in like 
manner. As I started to go, I saw my 
father standing on the rug, looking down 
on it intently. Raising his solemn eyes to 
mine, he told me to lift one end of it. 


I have never forgotten my mortification, 
or his charge to remember that no act or 
thought is hidden, and that every slighted 
duty is a sin against the ideal life. 

It was years before it occurred to me that 
every one had not this same vision. Ghost- 
stories did not affect my thought of heav- 
enly any more than of earthly friends. In- 
deed I did not connect the idea with them, 
but supposed it referred to the rising and 
reanimation of the dead body, — which ap- 
peared to me as reasonable as to hear that 
a dress had come out of a trunk and gone 
about to frighten people. 

I just remember taking tea at a neighbor's, 
and when I said good-night, being asked if 
I was afraid to go home alone. Confident 
that I was not, I started ; but finding it 
blustering, dark, and lonely, I soon became 


timid and uncertain of my way. Presently 
I discovered a little light beside me, and 
then, in the light, the baby who had gone 
the year before. He kept just before me 
till I opened the front door, and then, with 
the sweetest smile, was gone. 

At the funeral of one I loved, I saw him 
beside his mother and sisters, and wondered 
that their grief seemed to prevent them 
from seeing him. When the casket was 
laid away, the vault seemed full of light 
and flowers. 

I have no recollection of ever feeling 
fear, and surprise came as the knowledge 
gradually dawned upon me that my sight 
was something unusual. . . . 

Some time since, I was passing a church 
with a friend as the members were as- 
sembling for the funeral of their pastor. 


Following an impulse, we too went in. 
Presently the cortege arrived, the good 
rector himself preceding the mourners in 
their slow and solemn tread through the 
aisle and remaining at the head of the cas- 
ket during the service. We followed the 
congregation into the churchyard, to find 
the reverend gentleman again, bending pa- 
thetically over his sobbing widow beside his 
own grave. As there had been a double 
congregation in the church, so at the grave 
a chorus of heavenly voices swelled the 
parting hymn into what seemed a song of 
rejoicing and welcome to the new-comer, 
while voices and faces gradually disap- 
peared in the glory of light. 

I have a great love for churches, and sel- 
dom find one empty. When visiting in 
R , I went into an old church ; and while 


examining a tablet, saw for a moment the 
form of a young girl beside it. A few days 
later, while calling upon a lady with whom 
I was slightly acquainted, I noticed hanging 
over the piano a colored photograph, which 
I recognized unmistakably as a picture of 
the face I had seen in the church. This 
proved to be a likeness of the lady's daugh- 
ter, and a near relative also of the friend 
who had called my attention to the tablet. 

One evening I attended service in a little 
church belonging to a sect almost unknown 
and quite unpopular here. The congrega- 
tion was small, but there was more spirit 
and earnestness in their worship than is 
often seen in larger assemblies. During 
the prayer three figures appeared below the 
arched ceiling bending over the worship- 
pers, — one a woman, and two suggested 


old pictures of the Patriarchs. Presently 
another and more radiant form joined 
them, and pausing, looked up in an ex- 
pectant attitude. The white light grew 
more and more brilliant, until a shining 
one in an intensity of light, with long, 
wonderful wings, 1 was just visible within 
it, when the expectant figure raised his 
hand, as if to stay the dazzling glory. The 
tableau, as it were, remained thus, the 
ineffable light streaming over the hushed 
worshippers until the close of the prayer. 

Speaking of churches, do you never feel 
there is something more than the stillness 
and association of the place that makes it 
to many of us " none other than the house 
of God and the gate of heaven?" I believe 

1 I have seldom seen wings, but have been told that 
they are symbolic of a very high degree of spirituality. 


I could write a volume on what I have 
seen and heard in them. Sometimes the 
altar is beautifully decked with flowers 
and the air filled with exquisite music. I 
have been almost spell-bound by the deep 
volume of sound during the singing of a 
congregational hymn when only a hand- 
ful of rainy-day saints were present in 
the pews. 

Have I told you of the white light, so 
wonderful in its intensity ? Occasionally 
it fills the church, but more frequently 
descends upon individuals. Indeed, the 
seeking, prayerful soul is recognized in 
this way, though personally unknown to 
me. This ineffable light always comes 
with more or less intensity in response 
to sincere prayer, and I doubt not is the 
means by which comfort and strength are 


borne in upon the soul. Light ! how 
freighted with meaning is that word, — 
purifying, strengthening, quickening, illu- 
minating ! 

Some day I think we shall care more for 
symbols, using them rationally for their 
spiritual signification, without superstition. 
I should be glad to see the ever-burning 
lamp swung in our churches and in every 
home, — symbol of the aspiring flame of 
the soul and the light which continually 
streams from the Father, " who covereth 
himself with light as with a garment." 

Is the repeated dwelling by sacred 
writers upon the white light merely imag- 
ination and coincidence ? " The white 
light proceeding from the great white 
throne," the New Jerusalem, which " has 
no need of the sun, neither of the moon, 


for the glory of God does lighten it," and 
in the transfiguration, the garments " white 
as no fuller on earth could white them," 
for " as he prayed, the fashion of his coun- 
tenance was altered, and his raiment was 
white and glistering." " And behold, there 
talked with him two men, which were 
Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory." 
Was it indeed only a sunstroke, that light 
from heaven which blinded Paul and smote 
him to the earth as he journeyed toward 
Damascus, so searching his conscience that 
it revolutionized the whole tenor of his 
work and life ? 

Your question, " How do they speak to 
you ? Give me an idea of your intercourse 
with them," is strangely difficult to answer. 


In the first place, let me say that I am 
convinced this gift is a spiritual faculty, 
entirely independent of the physical senses ; 
for darkness or sunlight, the roar of the 
city streets or the stillness of my chamber, 
are alike immaterial conditions. Nor is it 
only those who have laid aside the earthly 
tabernacle that are thus unveiled to my 
sight. Frequently, where I have felt in- 
difference, even prejudice, I have been 
touched and rebuked by the unexpected 
loveliness of the inner man or woman, and 
as often shocked to find those I should like 
to respect, dark and repulsive. 

The impossibility of imparting to another 
the quickening glow we receive from finer 
souls, will prevent my giving you more 


than a very imperfect rendering of the 
teachings I have received. But this is the 
substance of a conversation held with my 
father this evening. I had just left the 
piano, after playing " Coronation," and was 
enjoying the sunset from the bay-window, 
feeling unusually bright and peaceful. 
Standing beside me, he said : " You are 
happy to-night, because the day has been 
calm and restful ; nothing has occurred to 
disturb its peace. You have not been good, 
any more than you were in your sleep last 
night ; you have rested. Should to-morrow 
be a day of trial, shall I find you at evening 
conquered, or conqueror ? Will you have 
kept this peace in your heart undisturbed ? 
Will you have listened to harshness and 
injustice in silence and without anger, re- 
turning a kind answer ? Will you have 


been patient and cheerful in sacrificing 
yourself to others, remembering their faults 
tenderly, your own seriously ? Will you 
have kept your thoughts above littleness 
and your soul open to the inflowing spirit ? 
Should you succeed in doing this, you will 
feel a far deeper peace than this mere rest 
from spiritual labor." 

" I know," I replied, " but I could not 
do all that if my life depended on it." 

" Your life does depend on it ; your whole 
future life depends on just that, — whether 
or not you slay the dragon self. It will 
be a long struggle, but you can and must do 
it, or else fail utterly in your life work." 

" What is my life work ? " I asked. 

" It is first to conquer yourself ; then to 
develop and use wisely your physical, intel- 
lectual, and spiritual being. Do this, and 


you will find your sphere of influence wid- 
ening, your five talents become ten. You 
have enough to do now, rather more than 
you have yet been equal to, in your own 
heart and home. Recognizing your pain 
and loneliness, I come, to help you if I can, 
and keep you from discouragement and fail- 
ure ; to inspire you to rise above it all and 
save you from bitterness and unsanctified 
sorrow. We feel the deepest sympathy with 
you. It is a dreary life, hedged in with 
briers and thorns. Yes, dear, but look up. 
The sky is as blue, the stars shine as 
brightly and solemnly for you, as for those 
upon the sunny slopes of happiness. Hold 
your dull life up to the light and see how it 
will be transfigured. Life is not meant to 
be a path of ease, but steep and rugged; 
and it is only through self-denial, discour- 


agement, discipline, and trial that you may 
attain the higher life. 

" Believe me, you can no more develop 
the spiritual powers without use and exer- 
cise than you can the physical. There is no 
virtue in being patient, if your patience is 
never tried ; cheerful, if you are not tempted 
to be gloomy. It is the little words you 
speak, the little thought you think, the 
little thing you do or leave undone, the 
little moments you waste or use wisely, 
the little temptations which you yield to or 
overcome, — the little things of every day 
that are making or marring your future 

u Of course you will fail sometimes ; but 
see to it that you rise from every fall with 
a renewed spirit and stronger will, deter- 
mined to win a blessing from every foe. 


Be peaceful and joyous ; consecrate the 
simplest duties of every day ; fill your life 
with earnest endeavor and perfect trust : 
and no matter how narrow and painful it 
may seem to you, when it is ended you 
will look back with wonder at the influence 
for good your quiet example and cheerful 
spirit have been, and realize also that you 
have won no small victory ; while in fail- 
ing to reach your possibilities you injure 
others. Remember there is no legacy like 
the example of a holy life." 

While busy in my room, to-night, there 
came to me a venerable man, a beautiful 
presence. He greeted me and said : — 

" You are rarely gifted. You hold a solemn 
trust, a light that should glorify your life. Do 


you value it as you should ? Do you realize 
what failure means here, — remorse, regret, 
and sorrow for lost opportunities ; words 
and acts your agony cannot recall ; neg- 
lect too late to repair ? So subtle is the far- 
reaching influence of a life, that not only 
must you meet your own failure and its 
influence upon those about you, but often, 
for generations, face the effect of the good 
or evil you did or left undone. This is 

" There are some poor souls who go 
through life without learning a conscious 
lesson. Inherited tendencies, a lack of 
moral training, cruel circumstances, and all 
manner of chilling influences would seem to 
have utterly blasted their spiritual natures. 
Yet the germ of good is there, dormant in 
its dull husk, and here, shall be quickened 


into life. You know there are some seeds 
that will not germinate in the cold, open 
ground of northern latitudes, and that it is 
only in a more genial atmosphere that they 
can be made to unfold. Sometimes it hap- 
pens so with this germ soul ; and here, in 
the Divine Nursery, not a seed is lost, but 
all wake to new possibilities. 

" The first thrill of life may be a terrible 
agony of remorse, — the painful bursting of 
the hull. Then, for the first time, perhaps, 
comes to it a consciousness of what it is 
and what it might have been. A reaction 
from the belief in a literal hell has given 
many the very comfortable idea, that no 
matter how selfishly and unworthily they 
may have lived, at death their sins will be 
blotted out, — that then they will begin to 
live better lives and enter into joy and 


peace. Nothing could be farther from the 
truth. If a child play with matches and 
is burned, the loving mother will nurse 
him tenderly and teach him that his suffer- 
ing is the consequence of his disobedience. 
Do all she can to soothe and heal, the lesson 
must be learned. 

" Thus, if the children of the all-wise, all- 
loving Parent disobey his laws, the suffering 
must follow. You will enter this life just 
what you make yourself. If you allow your 
spirit to be cramped, dwarfed, and sin- 
stained, you will find yourself crippled, 
weak, and impure ; unfit for the companion- 
ship of the good, and unable to enjoy the 
spiritual life until you have atoned by long 
struggle. If you persistently resist tempta- 
tion and hurtful shadows, and keep your 
soul receptive to all purifying, inspiring 


influences, your fitness to receive them will 
increase, and you will enter here prepared 
for higher development and purer joys." 

Talking with my father this morning. I 
asked him about Spiritualism. He said : 

" The so-called Spiritualist has no con- 
ception of pure spirituality. Instead of 
spiritualizing the present, he would materi- 
alize the future, placing it upon his level in- 
stead of reverently striving to rise to ours. 
There is also a loss of the sense of the 
Divine Presence — the highest and purest 
communion. He is apt to be less conscien- 
tious than those who feel less assurance, 
and utterly fails to realize the responsibility 
of life ; while each day brings him nearer 
its close, without realizing how it will be 


with him when all that is material has 
vanished. Be sure that he will stand on 
the threshold of Eternity shivering, for 
he will have failed to weave his spiritual 

" The true Spiritualist is one whose life 
is sanctified by the Spirit, — a perpetual 
consecration. You have Jesus for your 
Ideal. He said, ' I sanctify myself,' so per- 
fect was his consecration. After his death, 
when his disciples were assembled at the 
familiar meal, so fraught with tender as- 
sociations, he appeared in their midst, — 
not to hold a seance, to lift the table, or tell 
them of the life to come, but simply to im- 
press his teachings upon them and fill their 
hearts with peace ; to breathe upon them 
his holy spirit and charge them to be faith- 
ful to the light they had received. Nor 


do you find them waiting in the dark for 
him to come again, but working, through 
trial and persecution, to advance the com- 
ing of his kingdom. This is the only true 

Speaking of a friend to her father, he 
said : " I regret her want of health, but she 
must strive to overcome it, so far as lies in 
her power, by the might of the spirit. Bet- 
ter spend herself in work than rust away. 
Remember, it is claimed that a knowledge 
of the future life tends to the neglect of 
daily duties. Let every detail of your work 
be done as reverently and conscientiously 
as if arranging the tiny stones in a delicate 
mosaic, — a part of the Master's temple." 

"But her life is so distasteful," I pleaded. 


" If her life is distasteful to her, it is a 
sin that she allows it to be so, for since it 
is the work now given her, she should do 
it with the utmost earnestness and conse- 
cration. An example that will teach her 
children the holiness of labor and the sin- 
fulness of wasted time will be the most 
precious legacy she can leave them. A 
faith that can make weary, struggling souls 
faithful in the least of things, that con- 
secrates the whole of life ; a faith lived 
rather than spoken, filling the soul with 
' joy and peace in believing,' — must win 
the world. If our presence and sympathy 
make you live better lives and hold you up 
to higher spiritual aims, you need no words 
to prove it. That is the only test you 


Thank you for your dear letter of sym- 
pathy. If I feel my arms so empty and 
my heart and home so desolate, how must 
it be with those who sit in darkness ! 

As the little spirit breathed softly away, 
a strange calm came over me. I seemed 
blinded by the light and sense of awe and 
mystery. I saw and felt my mother take 
the little fellow from my arms ; and startled 
to a sudden sense of resistance, found that 
I held only the empty shell, " out of which 
the pearl had gone." 

The day passed without a glimmer from 
beyond ; but in the sleepless night, so pain- 
fully free from care, my father stood by 
my bedside holding my darling in his 
arms. It was only for a moment; but 
I was comforted. We laid the little 
casket away in a driving northeast storm. 


Oh, how it moaned and beat upon my 
heart ! 

I tried to live my faith, and accept my 
loneliness as his gain, and trust that in 
God's providence it shall be mine also. 

A friend brought me this exquisite little 
poem by Mrs. Lowell, which I copy for 
you, as you may not have seen it. It has 
comforted me to repeat it, especially, as the 
closing verses recall the night I saw my 
father holding my little lamb. 


Mrs. James Russell Lowell. 

When on my ear your loss was knelled, 

And tender sympathy upburst, 
A little spring from memory welled 

Which once had quenched my hitter thirst ; 


And I was fain to bear to you 

A portion of its niild relief, 
That it might be as cooling dew 

To steal some fever from your grie£ 

After our child's untroubled breath 

Up to the Father took its way, 
And on our home the shade of death 

Like a long twilight haunting lay, 

And friends came round with us to weep 

The little spirit's swift remove, — 
This story of the Alpine sheep 

Was told to us by one we love. 

They, in the valley's sheltering care, 
Soon crop their meadow's tender prime ; 

And when the sod grows brown and bare, 
The shepherd strives to make them climb 

To any shelves of pasture green 
That hang along the mountain side, 

Where grass and flowers together lean, 

And down through mists the sunbeams ^lide. 


But nought can lure the timid things 
The steep and rugged path to try, 

Though sweet the shepherd call and sing, 
And seared below the pastures lie, — 

Till in his arms their lambs he takes, 
Along the dizzy verge to go ; 

When, heedless of the rifts and breaks, 
They follow on o'er rock and snow. 

And in those pastures lifted fair, 
More dewy soft than lowland mead, 

The shepherd drops his tender care, 
And sheep and lambs together feed. 

This parable, by Nature breathed, 
Blew on me as the south wind free 

O'er frozen brooks that float unsheathed 
From icy thraldom to the sea. 

A blissful vision through the night 
Would all my happy senses sway, 

Of the Good Shepherd on the height, 
Or climbing up the starry way, 


Holding our little lamb asleep, 

And, like the burden of the sea, 
Sounding that voice along the deep, 

Saying, " Arise, and follow me ! " 

Since that last vision I have seemed to 
be left in darkness. Why, I cannot say. 
Possibly my own intensity of feeling is the 
barrier, or it may be a needed discipline. 
And yet, how much more comfort and 
assurance have I, than others who are 
suffering the same heartache ? I feel 
doubly bereft ; for not only has the child 
gone, but the gates through which he 
entered seem to have closed upon him. 
There is a reason for it, though I may not 
understand, and I will be patient. It may 
be my soul's winter, and the spring will 
come again with re-awakened blossoms. 


You ask if my faith has made my sorrow 
easier to bear. Yes, it must be so ; be- 
cause I know that it is well with the child. 

" In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion, 
By guardian angels led, 
Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution, 
He lives whom we call dead." 

But though I believe this, sometimes I 
feel that could we only have known how to 
keep him he might have been a helper in 
the world's work. The thought so beauti- 
fully expressed in the following lines by 
Julia C. R. Dorr makes me at times 

" Thy brothers, they are mortal, they must tread 
Oft times in rough, hard ways, with bleeding feet; 
Must fight with dragons, must bewail their dead, 
And fierce Apollyon face to face must meet. 


Was God, then, kinder unto thee than them, 
thou whose little life was but a span ? 

Ah, think it not ! In all his diadem 

No star shines brighter than the kingly man 

Who nobly earns whatever crown he wears, 
Who grandly conquers, or as grandly dies, 

And the white banner of his manhood bears 
Through all the years uplifted to the skies ! 

What lofty paeans shall the victor greet ! 

What crown resplendent for his brow be fit ! 
child, if earthly life be bitter-sweet, 

Hast thou not something missed in missing it ? " 

That passive resignation which accepts 
everything as the will of God is no 
longer possible to me; the question con- 
tinually arises, as to how much misery is 
God's will, and how much the consequence 
of our ignorance and blindness. For 
instance, when loved members of a family 

die from the neglect of common sanitary 


measures, does not the destroyer come into 
our homes as the penalty of broken laws, 
whether broken through wilful blindness 
or ignorance ? and is it not irreverent to say 
it is God's will that we suffer ? When ship 
or railroad train, freighted with precious 
lives, is swept away through the careless- 
ness of officials, or may be the incompe- 
tence of just one man, is it providential? 
or are not these things allowed rather be- 
cause God's laws are immutable, and we 
only learn to adjust ourselves to them by 
these solemn lessons ? 

It does seem hard that the innocent 
should suffer. In this sense w T e are surely 
members one of another, — if one member 
suffer, all members suffer with it ; but as 
humanity learns the Divine lesson of in- 
dividual responsibility, will not these laws, 


at first sight so cruel, come to be recog- 
nized as wise and beneficent, because fixed 
and unchangeable ? 

One spar I hold fast to on this dark sea 
of questioning, — a faith, growing out of 
every day's experience, as well as by tracing 
the ways of the Spirit in history, in an over- 
ruling Providence which evolves good out of 
evil, light from darkness, life out of death, 
and makes " the fairest flowers spring from 
old dead decay." Longing and questioning 
will arise ; but in my best moods I feel that 
if the child went through some ignorance of 
mine, even then, that heavenly life is full 
of compensation to him, and through the 
discipline of sorrow, loneliness, yes, even 
doubt, may come to me a blessed spiritual 
growth, otherwise impossible. 

I have seen and heard very little the past 


months, just enough to know they are still 
about me. Perhaps the waters of my soul 
are too ruffled to reflect my heavenly lights. 
The other day, I had this interesting ex- 
perience. Sitting in the sunshine with my 
book, the child of a friend stood beside me. 
He often visits me, though I never saw him 
in this life. We spoke of his mother and my 
baby ; and stroking his lovely hair, T said, 
u I wish I could send your mamma a curl ! " 
So seized was I with the idea that, rising, 
I went to my work-table for a pair of scis- 
sors, and coming back to the child, selected 
a curl to cut. As the scissors touched the 
hair, he dropped his eyes with such an 
amused, quizzical smile, and laughed out- 
right at my look of dismay that the curl 
did not come. " Did you really think you 
could cut it ? " he asked. 


[A number of the succeeding letters have 
been omitted.] 

I have been, and am still, groping through 
great doubt and gloom. How will it end ? 
Shall I find my way out with a stronger 
faith, or are all my old stays giving way 
under me ? I doubt everything now. Even 
the sunshine seems changed, the joy to have 
gone out of everything. All my life I have 
accepted things as they came to me, and 
formed through reading and experience 
certain opinions ; but now have come to the 
time when my house is shaken to its foun- 
dations by the storms and floods that will 
assail us, if we think. I only know that I 
want truth at any cost, and all I have held 
most precious must go, if not built upon " a 
foundation that standeth sure." You ask 


if I have been reading Herbert Spencer and 
the " Index." Yes, and a good deal be- 
sides ; for I believe that not knowledge, but 
a little knowledge, is a dangerous thing. 

This evening I was sitting on the piazza, 
watching the close of a perfect April day. 
Early there had been a cloudless sky and 
calm, still waters, changing to wild, black 
squalls of rain and wind, with bursts of glad- 
some sunlight in between ; and now all 
clouds had fled, and the sun was setting as 
peacefully as it had risen, shedding its rosy 
hue over the placid river. Restless and 
gloomy, the peace of the hour seemed 
almost a mockery ; for I was far more in 
sympathy with the dull sky and stormy 

A hand was laid on my shoulder ; and 
turning my head, I saw my father. He 


did not speak for some time, but at length 
said : — 

" Do you know it is not necessary to die 
to descend into hell and to feel its despair 
and misery ? To look at life and the future 
as you do, is to descend step by step into 
torment. To use your reason is right and 
necessary ; but you are now unreasonable, 
and rejecting the light. I warn you that 
if you persist in shutting it out, you will 
lose it. 

" You are aware of the great diversity 
of gifts ; that to some have been given ten 
talents, while others have received but one. 
Will you dare decide how much value yours 
may be to the Master, and bury it in the 
ground ? This moment you are doubting 
if I am really here, or whether there is 
something the matter with your brain. 


You see and hear me, you are conscious of 
the pressure of my hand. Can you not un- 
derstand that all are not equally gifted ? 
that some gifts are exceptional ? If you 
possess this in an unusual degree, is not 
that all the more reason for valuing it ? 
You have no idea how it may develop, 
under the influence of a firm conviction 
and sunny faith, to be of blessed strength 
and comfort to many." 

Your efforts to cheer me are very kind. 
I am not gloomy from any physical cause, 
and a change of scene would not divert me. 
One cannot run away from oneself. 

Still the same questioning ? Yes ; and is 
it not strange, if this spiritual intercourse 
is an hallucination, that I find it so 


difficult to accept it ? and also that when 
my doubt is the gravest, 1 cannot separate 
my thought of the future from what I 
know of it through these experiences ? 
Still, that may be a part of the delusion ; 
just as we can think out both sides of an 
argument and connect with one idea all we 
have associated with it. 

You say you do not see why, in giving 
this up, I should lose faith in every- 
thing. Nor do I, except that the entire 
experience of my life seems so intimately 
connected with it. I think, in those half 
unconscious depths of the soul, I still be- 
lieve in God and his providential guidance, 
and in the reality of that other world and 
all I have seen and heard ; and yet the sur- 
face waters are so disturbed I can no longer 
think of it without pain, while worship has 


long since been impossible to me. The 
universe seems like avast machine, — iron, 
pitiless, — and we, grinding through, our 
existence, the victims of the machine ; our 
affections the oil that keeps us from self- 
destruction. With all our boasted knowl- 
edge, we really know so little of the laws 
that control the blending of matter and 
spirit that it seems hopeless to satisfy the 
reason. And what is intuition, but perhaps 
a mild form of my disease ? My deepest 
pain is in the thought that I have awakened 
a false hope in those who have loved and 
trusted me. They are aware of all my 
misgivings; yet it is impossible for me to 
shake their faith. Fortunately they are 
few in number, for it has been too sacred 
and intimate a part of my life to be spoken, 
except to those very near me. Poor dear 


hearts ! When I thought to give them 
bread, did I give them a stone ? Your 
sympathy and interest are most grateful 
to me. When I catch a gleam of light, you 
shall share it. 

My dear father, if he be a fact, is most 
patient with me. My imperfect notes of 
his talks with me can give you little idea 
of the force of his spoken words, or the 
impressiveness of his manner. He greeted 
me this afternoon in this wise : — 

" So you are still in the fog, dear. Per- 
haps I can let in a ray of sunshine. "We 
will suppose that I am a myth, and if there 
be a future life, that it is infinitely distant, 
where the redeemed, dead to all love and 
longing, all disinterested devotion, are 


content to sing eternal hallels, unmindful 
of those who have been their joy and care. 
You know you cannot believe in such a 
heaven as this, that it is inconsistent with 
the higher conceptions of God and prog- 
ress. Then why not accept the one which 
appeals to your reason and conscience ? 
Or if your present life is all, if its high 
aims and aspirations are merely the fra- 
grance of a passing flower, what, then, 
will it matter that you have had this 
comfort and cheer? 

" No, of course you do not wish to be 
a victim to a self-delusion through some 
reaction of your own brain ; but you are 
no more able to satisfy yourself of this 
than of the reality of your spiritual per- 
ception. ' Spiritual things are spiritually 
discerned,' and can never be demonstrated 


to your satisfaction except through an act 
of faith. For months you have lived with- 
out faith, persistently rejecting a natural, 
useful faculty. Have you been happier ? 
Have you been inspired with a greater 
earnestness and enthusiasm ? Or has 
your soul been bound to a treadmill, — the 
angel within you grown dull and sad ? 

" I think you must decide which is the 
reasonable, rational, and most reverent 
faith, and having decided, hold to it; for 
you surely cannot think that you will not 
be held accountable for the way you use 
this gift, which, accepted as a sacred trust, 
may prove a source of strength and comfort 
to many." 

Touched, but not convinced, as he paused, 
I asked : " Tell me where and how you live, 
and what your homes are like ? Could 


I understand the laws and conditions of 
your life and growth, it might be easier 
to believe." 

With a tender, half-amused smile, he 
answered : " If the little children learn- 
ing their letters in the primary school 
should ask you to explain to them geom- 
etry, astronomy, and physiology, or even 
ask, as the busy little heads often do, 
where the babies come from, you could 
no more make them understand what love 
and motherhood mean than you could 
teach them calculus. So you could only 
tell them to be patient and industrious, 
to learn thoroughly each day's lessons, 
to be pure, unselfish, and good, and when 
they are old enough — that is, when their 
minds have grown to it — they will under- 
stand it all. And so I say to you, my 


little child, you could not understand me 
if I told you. As you develop your spirit- 
ual nature and come up into this high 
school, you will find it gradually unfolding 
to your understanding. We do not come 
to tell you startling facts or to relieve you 
of your responsibilities. As your intellect 
matures and broadens with culture and 
experience, so will your spiritual facul- 
ties expand to greater possibilities of 
knowledge and usefulness ; for all your 
powers are subject to the same law of 
growth, — ' Use and improve, or abuse and 
lose/ " 

Yes, I did receive a letter from you, 
urging my acceptance of these experiences 
as veritable truths, without further effort 


to reason upon them. Unable to accept 
this as genuine revelation, I have en- 
deavored to ignore and check its workings 
as much possible ; and the subject has 
become so painful to me, in many ways, 
that even towards you I have been 
reticent. But yesterday I was deeply 
stirred, and it came to me in this wise. 
I was resting upon the sofa, when suddenly 
I felt that everything was drifting away 
from me, and was soon conscious of only 
cold and darkness. Presently I began to 
discern glimpses of light, till I could grad- 
ually distinguish forms, each clothed in an 
atmosphere of its own, more or less illumi- 
nated by the all-pervading white light. 
Then I perceived that I alone was sur- 
rounded by darkness which the light did 
not penetrate. Recognizing my father, I 


asked him if I were dying. He did not 
reply directly, but after a while said, " Did 
you not wonder, yesterday, how it would be 
with you if death were to come suddenly? 
The light which surrounds and pervades 
all, is that divine grace which you persist 
in shutting out of your life. Because you 
cannot explain to the satisfaction of your 
small understanding the peculiar condi- 
tions of your special temperament, you 
have closed the windows of your soul and 
stifled your spirit with doubt." 

Then I was made to see my little room 
in my childhood's home. Around the 
kneeling form of my girl-self brooded a 
lovely light; and oh, the face was full 
of sweetness, trust, and peace ! " And now 
see what we hoped you might become ! " 

Then was revealed to me a far more radi- 


ant form, reaching out both hands to men 
and women, seeming to draw them from a 
depth of darkness below into the clear 
light of heaven, — their faces turned to 
hers, growing peaceful and satisfied as 
they advanced. "Look well at this pict- 
ure," he said. " Shall it be a prophecy of 
your future, or the warning of a lost oppor- 
tunity ? Light is given you ; but you cling 
to darkness, and are wilfully deaf and 

" But how can I be sure, even now, that 
this is not a freak of morbid imagination, 
or some brain disturbance ? " I said ; when 
immediately it became so dark about me 
that I could distinguish nothing. Dark and 
cold as the grave, I began to wonder if I 
were not really dead and cast into outer 
darkness. After what seemed a long time, 


I thought I saw the flickering of a faint 
light, which appeared and disappeared, as 
if thrown back in its efforts to pierce my 
darkness by a repellent force. It was the 
light I had seen about my baby ; and 
melted, in an agony of remorse I sank 
upon my knees, all resistance gone. When 
I raised my head again, the darkness had 
so dispersed that I could see my father 
holding my darling in his arms. He said : 
" You have fed upon husks and drunk 
from shallow springs until your soul is 
famished and wretched. Your peculiar 
temptation is doubt; it has, and will cost 
you, many a struggle. When you feel 
yourself wavering, pray at once with your 
whole soul for strength, and you will not 
ask in vain for the grace that renews and 


" Begin now the eternal life of trustful 
consecration and sanctified service, con- 
sciously drawing your innermost life from 
God. Life will hold more to you than 
you have ever dreamed when, ceasing to 
be an alien, you return to a life of faith, 
to rest in the conscious nearness and 
friendship of the Infinite Spirit, knowing 
that God is not afar off, but nearer than 
the closest friend, and that nothing is 
so abiding sure as his love and provi- 
dential care. 

" A gift has been intrusted to you, the 
value of which you are not capable of 
estimating. You have now no conception 
of the work you may accomplish if you arc 
faithful to this trust. But remember your 
own soul must be illuminated before you 
can help others ; the spring does not brim 


over with refreshing waters that has not 
a hidden source. When you have learned, 
through your soul's deep experience, that 
the indwelling Spirit is the source of all 
true living and high service, Nature, which 
now seems to you a vast machine, will be 
transfigured into the shining vesture of 
the Eternal, and the inner chambers of 
your soul, ever open to the celestial sunrise, 
shall be filled with its unclouded peace." 

I was deeply moved, and wished to 
pledge myself to a renewed life of earnest 
seeking and faith ; but before I could speak 
he was gone. Strains of music seemed 
to float toward me, which gradually died 
away, and I found myself alive and alone. 


" We think that heaven will not shut for evermore 
Without a kuocker left upon the door, 
Lest some belated wanderer should come, 
Heart-broken, asking just to be at home ; 
So that the Father will at last forgive, 
And looking on his face that soul shall live. 

" We think there will be watchmen through the 

Lest any, far off, tunTthem to the light ; 
That he who loved us into life must be 
A Father, infinitely fatherly ; 
And groping for him, all shall find their way 
From outer dark, through twilight, into perfect 



[The letters of the following eight years 
have been omitted.] 

In passing a certain house during the 
past year, I have met, almost daily, its 
former owner. He had been a physician 
in good practice, and very popular socially, 
— a welcome guest in many homes. My 
acquaintance with him was very slight ; 
and feeling irritated at the frequency of 
these meetings, I usually showed my an- 
noyance by hurrying by without appearing 
to see him. 

These earth-bound souls have it in their 
power to make themselves very disagree- 
able if allowed a recognition ; and finding 
this one always there, as much a part 
of the place as the trees or fence, I began 
to make detours to avoid the neighborhood. 


But this zigzag wandering between two 
direct points was often so inconvenient 
that from time to time I would venture 
again on my old direct course, only to 
find my coming watched for, as before. I 

mentioned these encounters to M , in 

one of our casual talks, as an instance of 
unpleasant shadowing ; but knowing him 
to have been here exceedingly courteous, 
she felt he was incapable of intention- 
ally giving annoyance, and urged my 

Thus has come into my life a new expe- 
rience, perhaps the beginning of a work 
among these mistaught and erring ones. 
He told me he had known all along that 
I had seen him, but would not intrude 
himself upon me, much as he had hoped 
to win my interest and sympathy. He 


was lonely and miserable ; yes, he had 
companionship, but did not care for it; 
he liked better to roam about his old 
home and live in his old associations, 
though it pained him that his wife thought 
of him as happy in a far-off heaven, 
and that he could not make her feel 
his presence. I urged him to leave the 
earth atmosphere and rise into a higher 
life, where the stimulus of work is even 
more urgent than here ; but he replied 
that he could not see what there was 
for a doctor to do where there were no 
frail bodies to wear out. He was very 
much disappointed to find a continued 
existence so unlike his anticipations, but 
supposed he must wait for the judgment- 
day to know whether he was among the 
lost or the saved. He had always attended 


church when he could, both from habit and 
because it was the proper thing to do ; but 
had never thought seriously of religious 
matters, preferring society and the good 
things of earth, of whicli he had an 
abundance. Nevertheless he had died con- 
fessing his faith in the Redeemer. Now 
things seemed to be turned upside-down; 
those he had thought unbelievers are so 
radiant with spiritual light that he cannot 
endure their presence ; while many good 
church-members are quite the opposite. 
Then he referred again to the day of judg- 
ment, which he seemed to think would 
adjust matters. I do not think I made any 
impression upon him in this interview, 
but we continued our daily visits, and tried 
to make him understand how all days are 
judgment-days ; that by his own admission 


he had lived for the physical life alone, 
and the dwarfing of his spiritual nature 
is his present judgment; that we are 
saved by holy lives, not by a vicarious 
atonement; and that Christ and his true 
disciples (the Christ-like) are living and 
working to increase the kingdom of right- 
eousness ; and that though he could no 
longer heal the sick bodies, he could work 
to save souls. But this idea offended him, 
— he was not intended to be a minister ; 
and I could not make him feel that in 
the sense of helping, we are all meant 
to be ministers. 

He never walked beyond the limits of his 
own grounds (which, however, were quite 
extensive), yet seemed each day more eager 
to see us. One Sunday morning we tried 
to persuade him to accompany us to church, 


but without avail. Returning, I expressed 
our disappointment that he had not gone 
with us, as the sermon and music might 
both have been a help to him ; then pro- 
posed his joining us at our evening reading 
at home, — perhaps too he would like the 
hymns we are fond of singing. This he 
would not promise; though I thought I saw 
a little yielding in his manner, and was not 
surprised when, later, he came gloomily into 
the room and took a seat beside me. We 
gave him no special welcome or notice, but 
continued the singing, apparently regard- 
less of his presence, for he was evidently 
much depressed. Before leaving, he thanked 
me with emotion for the privilege of the 
evening, adding, " I thought I did not like 
hymns or sermons, but I find I am just 
beginning to understand what is meant by 


spiritual food." The next afternoon he 
came some distance beyond his place to 
meet us. I tried to induce him not to go 
back there ; but he would not promise this, 
although he asked permission to be present 
again at the reading. Expecting him the 
following evening, we selected carefully 
what seemed to us best suited to his mood 
and need, closing with Whittier's " Answer." 
He spoke but little, was evidently deeply 
stirred, and seemed to have taken some 
strong, silent resolve. 

We did not see him the next day, nor 
the next, but the evening after, as we began 
the reading, he came among us ; and then 
I knew his determination had been to spare 
me, if possible, a knowledge of the keen 
suffering he was enduring. 


My father has since told me that it re- 
quires great force of will to leave the earth 
atmosphere, so strong is the clinging to 
places and associations ; and the presence 
of bright spiritual beings is to these lower 
ones an almost intolerable pain. The soil 
and stain of sensual life lies all uncovered 
in the clear light of the heavenly atmo- 
sphere, and it is only through the cleans- 
ing touch of this purifying flame that the 
gathered dross may be consumed, and the 
spirit regain its Paradise. A free " sanc- 
tity of will " remains always and inviolably 
ours. Help and forgiveness are Heaven's 
free gifts ; but " no force divine can love 
compel," and step by step we fall or rise, 
as we will. But our friend was now roused 
and thoroughly in earnest ; he came to us 
every night, and after a while, for half an 


hour in the morning. The memory of his 
past life became more painful to him as he 
advanced upward, constant in seeking the 
purifying flame, and so brave and silent 
about the suffering. 

Then there came a Sunday when I was 
told to be early in my place at church. 
I found a service, already begun, in that 
spiritual temple so often unveiled to my 
sight. At the close of the discourse there 
was a pause, and he who had finished 
speaking stood in the chancel, as if wait- 
ing, while the congregation remained kneel- 
ing with bowed heads. 

Presently our Doctor came reverently 
down the aisle and kneeled before this 
radiant spirit, who, placing his hands upon 
the bowed head, looked upward with an 
indescribable expression of strength and 


peace. Overcome with emotion, for some 
moments I was conscious only of the deep 
silence and of an unusual intensity of white 
light. Then I heard the exquisite chanting 
of that heavenly choir ; and raising my 
head, saw our Doctor rise, clothed in his 
new robe of righteousness, his face so full 
of peace and victory that I was filled with 
unspeakable awe. 

One morning, while busy in my room, 
a friend from the " Hither Side " asked 
if he might bring his wife to me ; he 
hoped that I might help her. Having 
been a hypochondriac for years before 
her death, she cannot now be persuaded 
that she is not ill, and clings so to earth 
that her friends are unable to influence 


her. Of course I assented, and a little later 
lie brought her, leaving us alone together. 
She had a weary, discontented face, and 
the air of one who considered herself 
injured. I made various unsuccessful at- 
tempts to draw her into conversation, 
receiving only short, cold answers, until 
the happy thought occurred to me to inquire 
about her health. It was surprising how 
she gradually warmed, confiding to me all 
her ills, and how unjust and unsympathetic 
she had found her friends there, who wished 
to persuade her that since quitting the 
body she was no longer ill. They did not 
know what it was to be an invalid, and she 
must cease to expect sympathy. Indeed, 
she and they seemed to have nothing now 
in common, and she complained bitterly of 
loneliness. Oh, if she were only back again 

82 LIGHT 02V 

in the earth life with her daughter, who had 
devoted time and strength to her for years! 
Why had she been so imprudent ! She 
had driven out insufficiently clad, and pneu- 
monia had been the result. I reminded her 
that her daughter, having spent her youth 
and strength in devotion to her, needed 
relief and rest; and hoped that she wxmld 
soon entirely recover, to be a companion 
for her husband and bright and well to 
receive their daughter when she should 
join them. 

She did not give much heed to me, but 
sighed and looked bored. She was evi- 
dently not to be easily moved. The next 
day I was surprised to see her again, and 
proposed that she should rest upon my bed. 
This appeared to please her, and she re- 
mained all the afternoon, while I went on 


with my work, leaving her several times to 
go down-stairs. I was half amused and 
much perplexed over this new charge. I 
dared not offer to read, as I feared nothing 
more serious than a light novel would be 
acceptable, nor did I talk much, but tried 
to make her feel welcome. 

The following day she came again, and 
appeared quite peevish and woe-begone. 
I was reading aloud, and after a little went 
on with it. Restless and listless, she soon 
went away ; yet has continued her visits 
every day since. She seems to like our 
Doctor, and I believe he will help di- 
vert her mind from herself. Her curios- 
ity and interest are apparently excited, 
although she has no sympathy in our 
pursuits. Is it not sad ? And yet, were 
she alive (what a singular expression !), 


finding her so utterly uninteresting and 
tiresome, I should avoid her as much as 

Since this experience I have questioned 
whether we are right to seek only congenial 
society. If our sincere desire be to advance 
the kingdom of righteousness upon the 
earth, ought we not to give ourselves more 
freely ; to share the culture and refine- 
ments that have graced our lives with those 
less fortunate ; and above all, to exert all 
the influence in our power to win the shal- 
low and selfish to a higher plane of living ? 
My conscience reproaches me that I feel the 
claim of this weak, selfish, undeveloped 
woman, as I should not had she been an 
earthly acquaintance. 


Last summer, we passed the day with 
a friend in her old family homestead ; and 
being left alone in the chamber where I 
had laid my wraps, I sat down in the open 
window, grateful for a little rest. Dreamily 
enjoying the peace and beauty of the out- 
look, I was roused from my reverie by a 
deep sigh, soon another, and then another, 
followed, finally, by most passionate sobs. 
I arose and looked about me ; and going 
to an opposite door, opened it, only to 
find an adjoining vacant room. I returned 
to my seat : and distressed by the con- 
tinued sobbing, was glad to be released 
from this haunted chamber by the call 
of my friend a few minutes later. 

Returning to the quiet of our home that 
evening, I asked the meaning of what I 
had heard ; and was told that a brother 


of our hostess had wished to reach me, 
but had been completely overcome by the 
associations of the place. A few days 
later he came and gave me the sad story 
of his life, — which is not an uncommon 
one, I fear. He was the eldest son of 
a man of rare integrity and purity of 
character, but of a reserved temperament, 
much absorbed in his books and profession, 
and himself so far above the lower tempta- 
tions of the flesh that this kind of danger 
to his children did not occur to him. 
This son was a handsome fellow, genial, 
warm-hearted, and susceptible to influ- 
ence, either good or evil. His compan- 
ions and surroundings were in many ways 
unfortunate, until gradually he was drawn 
into the toils of a fascinating, unprin- 
cipled married woman. (Oh, the shame 


of it, that such women are allowed to 
poison society !) 

Later he went to the West ; and there, 
already demoralized, sank still lower, till 
death suddenly swept him away. And 
where ? Into hell ? Yes ; but why ? What 
had he in common with pure spiritual 
souls ? That great gulf — the conscious- 
ness of sin and unworthiness — had sepa- 
rated him from his parents, who had died 
some time before, and made him shrink 
away and hide himself in the companion- 
ship of his equals, stifling his conscience 
in low pleasures. 

I cannot tell you what a shock and dis- 
appointment it has been to me to find that it 
is possible to continue a low, depraved life 
in the world of spirit. I had always thought 
that the power to sin ended here ; but have 


learned that freedom of choice between 
good and evil remains as much a law of 
that life as this, and that there is nothing 
whatever in death to change a sinner into a 
saint, except as it brings the sternest judg- 
ment, by forcing upon the unclothed soul 
the exact consciousness of its condition. 
To the earnest, this is all that is needed to 
rouse a most ardent desire for the higher 
life ; while to the pure and holy it re- 
veals, to their surprise and joy, the heights 
they have attained, while, filled with that 
peace which passeth understanding, they 
behold the white peaks yet to be attained, 
rising all fair and glorified in the bright 
light of heaven. 

But though the sinner may descend 
lower and lower, the saving love is seek- 
ing him, and he can find no peace, no 


escape from that awful conscience which 
nothing will pacify. No pleasure satisfies, 
as ever onward he pursues the phantom, 
till, sated and weary, starving and humble, 
he comes to himself and bewails the in- 
heritance he has wasted. But oh, how 
piteous is the return ! — step by step, 
through struggle and atonement, until the 
lost measure of purity and strength be 

I talked w r ith this prodigal a long time, 
and urged his coming regularly, that we 
might help and encourage him as we do 
others ; but when I spoke of his parents, 
it was pitiful to see his shrinking from 
them and all the sainted ones. How shall 
I describe to you our anxiety and suffering 
for him, poor fellow, during the succeeding 
months of repeated trial and backsliding, 


while his father and mother directed my 
efforts and helped sustain my fainting hope ? 
Once, when we thought he had gained a 
sure hold and was safe, the old dull look 
of discontent returned, and for days I did 
not see him. Then our Doctor begged that 
he might go in search of him and use all 
his persuasion to bring him back. I was 
deeply touched, for I felt that he knew 
that to go into those dark depths was 
to put himself in the way of old influences 
and temptations, literally plunging him- 
self into the fire to save another. He left 
us, saying in his quiet way, without a 
word of either fear or assurance, " I must 
go ; and if I do not return to-night, you will- 
know why. I only ask that your thought 
and prayer may go with me." He re- 
turned, looking worn and sad ; his effort 


had been in vain. He soon left us ; and 
when he came again the next day, I saw 
that he was lifted and strengthened, ready 
to try once more. He was gone several 
days, — how anxious they were to us ! — 
and this time was successful. 

One evening, after we had finished read- 
ing and were alone, a lovely little girl 
stood at my knee and most pathetically 
besought me to find her mamma. I learned 
that the child had never known earth-life, 
and that her mother, now dead, was sepa- 
rated from her by a gulf of darkness, — 
why, she knew not, but had been told that 
I could help her. I assured her of my hope 
and desire to bring them together, and she 
left me w r ith all a child's joy of anticipation. 


In the night I was roused by a touch, 
and saw kneeling by my bedside a young, 
slight, delicate woman, clad in black and 
sobbing piteously. I tried to put my hand 
upon her head ; but she shrank away and 
cowered all in a heap upon the floor, while 
little by little she poured out her sad con- 
fession. Betrayed by her lover, — more 
sinned against than sinning, — in her 
alarm and despair she had destroyed the 
life of her child, and soon after faded 
away in a quick decline. 

She had been brought up under the 
strictest Orthodox teachings, and believed 
herself hopelessly lost. Hence the hold 
he continued to exercise over her when 
she found him already there before her, 
through his own reckless act; both doomed, 
as she thought, and forever shut apart from 


the pure and good. It would be impossible 
to portray in words the intensity of feeling 
shown by these poor sufferers, — their own 
sense of guilt and degradation, the iron 
door that shuts them out! 

Fortunate it was that I had known some- 
thing of the man who had wrecked her 
life. She was not his only victim, — 
though it was difficult to persuade her 
of this, for the fascination had been com- 
plete ; and yet I felt that it loosened his 
hold upon her. 

I said all that I could at that time ; 
and now for many months she lias spent 
hours daily in my room. But my hand 
trembles and my eyes fill when I recall 
the dark valley we have travelled together, 
of which I can give you little idea. 

Poor little thing, my heart went out 


to her as it has to none other, she was so 
prostrate and blinded by her sense of 
guilt, and so drawn by habit of thought 
and discouragement back to the old life ! 
Many a time she fled from him and from 
herself to my side, and more than once 
he followed, pleading or taunting, as his 
mood might be. Once when in despair 
for her my soul cried out for help, a 
quick flash of intense light was the imme- 
diate response, from which he fled with 
a yell like a maniac. 

After a while she came to stay most 
of the time in my room. She was soul- 
sick, poor child, and lay upon my lounge 
both day and night ; though I often woke 
to find her kneeling by my bedside. We 
talked and read a great deal to her, till 
gradually she came to trust that she could 


be saved and forgiven, and finally to 
realize that she still had the power to 
seek the light which purifies, invigorates, 
and strengthens. 

If hell-fire means anything, — and we 
are told that every old dogma contains 
a kernel of truth, — it is this light which 
purifies as by fire, but which becomes their 
source of peace and refreshment when 
cleansed and healed. 

Once roused to the full sense of her 
need, the heroism displayed by our little 
Lou was sublime. There was no more 
wavering or flinching, but a patient, reso- 
lute determination to regain her lost purity 
and peace ; nor would her conscience be 
satisfied with less than her utmost endur- 
ance. I remember, one day, starting to 
throw a little white shawl over her black 


robe, and haw she shrank from it, begging 
me not to put anything white near her. 
How pleased I was when, long after, she 
let me spread it over her as she lay on my 
bed, looking so calm and spent that I 
wondered how this could be with one set 
free from the body. But I understand 
now that the spirit faints and is weary, 
and have been led to question whether the 
spirit does not react upon the body here, 
even more than the body upon the spirit. 
And then there came a night when she 
was brought, like one dead, by two shining 
ones. She did not leave us again for 
several days, but lay quiet and peaceful 
upon my lounge, under the little white 
shawl, with some sprays of sweet white 
honeysuckle beside her. Upon waking in 
the morning we found her gone. We 


knew that this ordeal through which she 
was passing could not kill, and would not 
last forever ; but oh, how deeply was our 
sympathy stirred ! how interminable seemed 
those hours ! 

The next afternoon we were told to 
be in church at sunset. We found the 
place filled, the altar exquisitely decked 
witli delicate white flowers, the music en- 
chanting, and the long, deep hush of the 
worshippers only broken by the soft, low 
strains. While I listened, awed and breath- 
less, our little charge was borne down the 
aisle, all spent and unconscious, to the 
chancel, where one — oh, so bright and 
beautiful ! — waited. He placed his hands 
tenderly upon her brow ; and looking up, 
seemed to bring down, as in answer, a 

flood of light ineffable. Every head bowed. 



After a prolonged silence, some lovely 
words were chanted by the congregation. 
Raising my head, I beheld our little Lou 
standing erect, her face filled with con- 
scious peace. The little black dress had 
given place to a robe of pale-blue light, 
and folded in her arms was her little 
girl, — -the child she thought she had lost 
forever ! 

At first I wondered that this should not 
have been a sacredly private hour ; but 
then I recalled how there is " joy in heaven 
over every sinner that repenteth," and felt 
that each soul in that congregation was 
there from sympathy and joy. 

That evening, when my little flock 
gathered about me, little Lou asked me 
to read the parable of the prodigal son. 
I think it had a deeper meaning to us 


all, as we saw the emotion with which 
she listened to the story of the son's 
welcome home to the Father's heart and 

During those months of anxiety over 
our little Lou, the young man of whom 
I told you in a previous letter came to 
me irregularly. Dissatisfied and restless 
in his old life, yet too weak from long 
habits of self-indulgence for any continued 
striving, my time and strength became so 
overtaxed by his demands upon my sym- 
pathy that he was forbidden by my helpers 
to come to me any more till thoroughly 
in earnest. This deprivation proved the 
needed stimulus to his first sincere effort 
at improvement; for he was a loving 


fellow, and felt deeply the separation from 
me and his companions, two of whom had 
been friends of his boyhood, and were 
holding to the right more steadfastly 
than he. 

Many days passed before he was al- 
lowed to see me, and then I read and 
talked with him alone, until, after months 
of slow progress, he was allowed to 
resume his old place at the readings ; 
and, inspired by little Lou's example, is 
now one- of my safe ones, happy in his 
awakened sensibility to righteousness, and 
rejoicing in the loving approval of the 
father and mother he had so deeply 

The dawn of some interest beyond her 
own selfish broodings also came to my in- 
valid through watching our labor of love 


over little Lou. My weak ones have 
always shown a tender sympathy for one 
another ; the slipping back of one is grief 
to all, while earnest indeed is the joy and 
pride of each over a brother's hard-won 
victory. So the unconscious heroism of 
little Lou stimulated all to greater effort, 
and won even my invalid from her listless 

" You are queer women," she one day 
said to me. " Do you really like this 
work ? and is it not a sacrifice to give 
up society and devote yourselves to such 
as these ? " She has little spirituality, and 
her progress will be much slower than 
that of some who have sunk to greater 


You ask me to tell you more of my 
" little flock." Many of them have been 
men of prominence here. That " the first 
shall be last and the last first," according 
to the world's standard of wisdom and 
greatness, is daily illustrated by the hu- 
mility with which these men of once high 
places come to learn of spiritual things 
like little children. Their characters are 
various, and through devious ways have 
they come to that " last bourne ; " but each 
separate experience is intensely interesting. 
I will try to give you fragmentary touches 
of a few of them. 

Dead here to all spiritual life and 
growth, they have entered the higher life 
totally unfit for the companionship of 
the blessed, and in their despair, gloom, 
and guilt, shrink away from all helpful 


influences ; for only with the soul's cry 
of Abba, Father ! does growth begin. 

It has been difficult to understand why 
this work among the soul-sick and unhappy 
is given me, when the Better Land is so 
full of earnest helpers, whose natural and 
chosen labor would seem to be just here. 
But we learn that it is less painful for 
the unspiritual dead to approach one still 
veiled by this mortal vestment while their 
sympathies and regrets hold them to earth ; 
but once receptive to wiser teachers, they 
pass immediately from my guidance into 
the safe fold. 

One who has held my warmest sympathy 
was here a clergyman, a man of brilliant 
mind and natural liberal tendencies ; but 
rejecting the higher light, preached dogmas 
he no longer believed, closing his eyes and 


understanding to truths inconvenient to 
accept. His suffering is twofold, — the 
injury to his own spirit, and a grief yet 
more intolerable over those misled by his 
teaching; for he had many enthusiastic 
admirers, to whom his word and opinion 
were law. 

Two were gentlemen of ample means 
who lived moral, but narrow, selfish lives, 
and died leaving their property to public 
institutions already richly endowed. What 
would they not give now to be able to re- 
lieve the distress of relatives and friends 
who are suffering from this selfish indiffer- 
ence to their needs ! They cannot detach 
themselves from these lives, following them 
through anxieties and hardships their care 
might have averted, so unreconciled at be- 
ing helpless to aid them, and having only 


themselves to blame. In some ways these 
are the most miserable of all who come 
to me ; held back from progress by 
regrets and remorse, they will not seek 
for themselves brighter spheres while 
those they have neglected are toil-worn 

If people could only know in making 
their wills what a scourge they may be 
preparing for themselves, which will one 
day drive them literally into a hell of 
regret and unrest, then would charity 
indeed begin at home and in the com- 
munity where they have lived, and much 
misery here and hereafter be spared. 
Large bequests to public charities will 
not absolve the soul from a neglect of the 
modest but pressing needs of those close 
about him, whom public charities cannot 


and should not reach, but who struggle 
bravely and uncomplainingly, doing all in 
their power to help themselves. 

Our wealth, talents, time, culture, and 
refinements are sacred trusts. The ideal 
life demands that we give, even as we 
have received, not from a sense of duty, 
but as a gracious privilege. Nor will the 
soul be satisfied with any compromise ; it 
must share its every gift. The purse with- 
out sympathy and time and trouble, it may 
be, is as empty, so far as it has power 
to grace the giver ; while the man who 
proffers friendship and sympathy, yet does 
not out of his abundance make that pro- 
fessed interest a substantial help, defrauds 
his own soul. 


Judge C was a man of fine intellect 

and large hospitality, living upon a hand- 
some estate, lord of the domain, and much 
deferred to in the management of State 
affairs. His wife had been an Episco- 
palian, and his children grew up with a 
preference for that Church. He was not 
a church-goer himself, loved argument, 
talked remarkably well, and was always 
ready for a discussion. Thus slipped along 
in ease and prosperity a life of sixty odd 
years, when health began to fail, and the 
problem of a future life presented itself. 
His country home was somewhat isolated ; 
and loving intelligent companionship, he 
invited the Catholic priest, when in that 
neighborhood, to stay at his house. Re- 
ligious discussions naturally became fre- 
quent and more interesting, with decreasing 


bodily strength ; and a few weeks before 
his death he was baptized by the friendly 
priest, absolved from his sins, and per- 
suaded that an acceptance of the Church's 
conditions of salvation would be a sure 
passport into happiness and heaven. 

He had been years in the spirit-world 
when brought to me by a dear friend, who 
had been one of his near ones in earth- 
life. But oh, the bitter disappointment of 
this poor soul ! He had found a new life, 
but one utterly unlike that pictured to him 
by the priest. The teaching of religion 
was all false, lie said ; there was no such 
thing as vicarious atonement, and he did 
not believe there was a Jesus ! 

Another was an atheist ; a man of 
large culture, but a reserved, unsympa- 
thetic nature, who had thought to solve 


all life's mysteries by intellectual pro- 
cesses. He was brought to me shrouded in 
indifference and gloom, "himself his own 
dark jail," and for months seemed hardly 
interested in our readings. I wondered, 
as I watched him pace the floor on the 
opposite side of the room, so coldly silent, 
what attracted him to our gatherings. The 
awakening seemed to come to him during 
the reading of Dr. James Freeman Clarke's 
" Apostle Paul;" and through the last 
pages of " The Legend of Thomas Didy- 
mus " he sat with his head bowed in his 
hands, deeply stirred. The seed was quick- 
ened. He had been a man of energy and 
great strength of will ; and once roused 
to a consciousness of guilt, the swift tide 
of remorse was terrible to see. A faith- 
less, thankless soul, all his life impervious 


to the sweet influences of spirit, and finally 
hurried on his path of recklessness by the 
fearful crime of self-destruction! 

Do you remember the last half of Whit- 
tier's "Answer"? It would seem to have 
been written for these belated ones, and 
expresses the truth so perfectly that their 
condition is no arbitrary doom, but the 
inevitable retribution of a life of sense and 
unfaith. Nothing that I have read has 
been more stirring to them than this 
poem : — 

" Though God be good and free be heaven, 
No force divine can love compel ; 
And though the song of sins forgiven 
May sound through lowest hell, 

" The sweet persuasion of His voice 
Respects thy sanctity of will. 
He giveth day : thou hast thy choice 
To walk in darkness still, 


" As one who, turning from the light, 
Watches his own gray shadow fall, 
Doubting, upon his path of night, 
If there be day at all ! 

" No word of doom may shut thee out, 

No wind of wrath may downward whirl, 
No swords of fire keep watch about 
The open gates of pearl ; 

" A tenderer light than moon or sun, 
Than song of earth a sweeter hymn, 
May shine and sound forever on, 
And thou be deaf and dim. 

" Forever round the Mercy-seat 

The guiding lights of Love shall burn ; 
But what if, habit-bound, thy feet 
Shall lack the will to turn ? 

" What if thine eye refuse to see, 

Thine ear of heaven's free welcome fail, 
And thou a willing captive be, 
Thyself thy own dark jail 1 


" doom beyond the saddest guess, 
As the long years of God unroll 
To make thy dreary selfishness 
The prison of a soul ! 

" To doubt the love that fain would break 
The fetters from thy self-bound limb, 
And dream that God can thee forsake 
As thou forsakest Him ! " 

Perhaps the most trying of all whom 
I have sought to aid, is one who here 
was a man of position and influence both 
in his church and community, a promi- 
nent member of various missionary and 
tract societies, given to cant, long prayers 
and graces, strict in his family disci- 
pline, rigidly observing every letter of 
Evangelical religion. He was known to 
be a shrewd business man, and in con- 
sequence of his wide and well-known 


connection with religious and charitable 
institutions, became guardian and trustee 
for many orphans and widows, whom he 
defrauded of their property, using their 
means to pursue his growing passion for 

It would be most painful to you, as well 
as to me, to go into the details of the 
moral and spiritual degradation of this 
man, who hid his iniquity under the cloak 
of righteousness, imposing upon the true 
and simple by his sanctimonious air and 
loud professions. He was brought to me 
by one whom he had wronged, and we 
have done all in our power to help him ; 
but it lias seemed an almost hopeless task 
to restore to him even a small measure 
of spiritual life, for there is not a single 

means of comfort or inspiration to others 



that does not contain a bitter sting for 
him. The simplest word of prayer wrings 
from him a cry of agony. He who prayed 
so fluently in the prison and reformatory, 
who was always ready to lead the prayer- 
meeting or offer the long grace, unable 
to lisp even the Publican's prayer ! He 
comes with the others, but remains apart, 
bowed with humility and remorse, unwill- 
ing so much as to raise his eyes unto 
heaven, or even ask that his darkened soul 
may receive. 

I think if there be an unpardonable sin, 
it is religious insincerity, which seems 
nearer moral and spiritual death than 
anything I have seen. A silent sym- 
pathy is almost all that I can give to com- 
fort him, together with the assurance that 
if he will be patient and longsuffering 


with himself, enduring the healing pain, 
there shall gradually be restored to him 
the power to seek forgiveness and the 
quickening, saving love, in sincerity and 
truth. For " yet doth he devise means 
that his banished ones be not expelled 
from him." 

The faith in a personal devil and his 
agents of wickedness was to us a far safer 
belief than the careless assurance we have 
grown into, that thoughts and actions are 
merely the expression of our own uninflu- 
enced individuality. If we remember the 
number of undeveloped, evil-minded, and 
malicious souls passing constantly from 
our midst into the beyond, what more nat- 
ural field presents itself for the exercise 


of their wicked propensities than the in- 
jury of those here on a higher plane than 
themselves, and towards whom they seem 
to feel a peculiar hatred and jealousy? 
We may be sure that the exact condition 
of our inner life and spiritual atmosphere 
is as clear to their vision as are physical 
forms to our material senses, and that 
tendencies and moods are open avenues 
for the influence of these subtle workers 
to crowd in upon, and by their artful 
management of vacillating motives oft- 
times to turn the wavering balance on the 
side of wrong and evil. How necessary, 
then, to keep the mind clear and the heart 
pure, that good angels may come in and 
help us to battle out every struggle for 
right. Presences, good and evil, are ever 
watching near us ; it is for ourselves to 


determine which shall be the chosen guests 
of our inner sanctuary. 

I attended very recently the funeral 
of a young' girl, — an idolized, only child. 
She was one of my Sunday-school class, 
and my favorite among them all, — so 
earnest, and always eager for the best 
thoughts we could glean for the week's 
lesson. Her illness had been sudden and 
sharp ; one of those quick snatchings out 
of the home-life of its very joy and centre. 
Bereft, and stricken to the very soul, her 
parents could not be comforted, for " their 
child was not." The materialistic drift of 
the father's mind robbed the poor mother 
of what consolation might have come to 
her through belief in her darling's gain. 


But this faith all unstaid, the great here- 
after " only a problematical preacher's 
tale," hope and trust had no place beside 
the living reality of crushing sorrow, — an 
instance only too common of the unfaith 
with which the beloved of many homes 
are laid away. Could these mourners but 
detach themselves from the sway of the 
physical sense, their spirits, " touched to 
finer issues," would find the vivid realities 
of the spirit realm an unfailing source 
of inspiration and strength. 

Can you imagine a more heartrending 
position than to be in one's own familiar 
home and place, unseen, unheard, and 
unf elt, — thrust out, as it were, from the 
love that has nurtured and blessed us all 
our lives ? So it was with this poor child. 
She looked about upon the objects of her 


daily care like one in a troubled dream. 
There were the plants she had so recently 
tended, the little singing-bird in the win- 
dow, the darkened house, her agonized 
parents, so unconscious of her presence ; 
and then, completely overcome by the 
hopelessness of comforting them, who 
thought of her as gone to some distant 
place, she clung sobbing to her mother 
in an agony of grief and homesickness. 
Presently the service for the dead began ; 
and my little friend grew more calm, as 
sentence after sentence of conviction and 
hope fell from the lips of our beloved 
pastor, and at the last allowed herself to 
be led tenderly away by loving spirits. 
Soon after, she came to me in my room 
and begged me to comfort her mother ; 
to tell her that she lived and loved her 


in the old close way, but could not be 
happy while she and her father were so 
sad and unreconciled to her going; that 
she would like to have stayed with them 
longer, but was yet with them in thought, 
love, and often presence, and after so short 
a time they would have a happier home 
together in the brighter world. 

It is always a pleasant thought to me 
that you hold such an earnest interest 
in my gift. Yes, it continues with, if 
possible, more interest than ever ; and as 
" my patients," as you call them, cease 
to need my help, and pass up into the 
higher life, they continue to hold their 
affection for me and to " lend a hand " in 
this labor of love. But let me begin by 


answering the questions in your last let- 
ter. You ask, u Has this double life, as 
it were, been a help to you, or an added 
strain ? " 

It has indeed been no easy path to 
climb, thus doubly responsible to those 
dependent upon me both here and there. 
If I have sometimes, when discouraged, 
felt my radiant teachers stern in their 
exactions, it has been because they would 
not allow me to rest with less than my 
best effort. With deep humility and grati- 
tude would I confess their tender patience, 
always so strong to uplift, comfort, and 
encourage. They alone know the battles 
lost or won, and whether at the last I 
shall be found worthy of so grave a trust 
and their sustaining help in every hour 
of need. 


What have I found the most impressive 
fact, aside from the essential spirituality 
of that life? 

It were difficult to select. Perhaps that 
perfect order of the universe which causes 
every soul to find its own level and exact 
place, by the same unfailing law that builds 
the marvellous architecture of snow crystal 
and flower, and provides for the progress 
of each soul as surely as for the sweep 
of the planets on their mighty course. 
We are just beginning to read in the les- 
sons of nature and history that providen- 
tial order which we call " law." 

We have learned much of the conserving 
power of Nature ; but it remains for the 
future life to reveal to us that nothing 
is lost, and that all our toil, study, and 
self-discipline have been storing the soul 


with material which, when freed from the 
fetters of earth, in that life of larger oppor- 
tunities, will unfold to blessed use. What 
joy to find what we thought lost in our 
weary struggle with life saved for us, — 
stored safely away for future use ! 

" He lends not, but gives to the end, 
As he loves to the end. If it seem 
That he draws back a gift, comprehend 
'Tis to add to it rather, 
Or keep, — as a mother may toys 
Too costly, though given by herself, 
Till the room shall be stiller from noise, 
And the children more fit for such joys 
Kept over their heads on the shelf." 

I wish I might say to all mothers who 
sit with empty arms and aching hearts, 
that though for a time they may not 
watch the growth and unfolding of their 
little ones, yet does their present sorrow 

1 24 LIGHT ON 

enfold unspeakable future joy. When they 
come to know how their children have 
been cared for, and led by wise and loving 
friends into greater possibilities of growth 
than we can imagine, I am sure the com- 
pensations will overpay the heartache of 
tliis temporary separation. 

And to lives that have here been full 
of high, pure aspirations, but hedged in 
by cruel circumstances, what a release 
does death bring, opening brighter realities 
than their deepest longings and fairest 
visions have ever pictured! 

Most impressive to the finite mind are also 
the subtle, far-reaching effects of seemingly 
small events. The more we realize the 
perfect order and beneficent purpose of the 
universe, the more solemn becomes our 
sense of responsibility; and as reverence 


deepens into awe, we confess, with the 
Psalmist of old, " Thou hast beset me 
behind and before, and laid thine hand 
upon me. Such knowledge is too wonder- 
ful for me ; it is high, I cannot attain 
unto it." 

" What do they do, these bright ones ? " 
1 think all that we may know of that 
higher life is summed up in the teaching 
of Jesus, — probably all that we can under- 
stand of it ; certainly ail that we need to 
know. First, " Be ye perfect ; " and out 
of that comes the service of the strong 
to the feeble, " Whosoever will be chief 
among you, let him be your servant." " It 
is more blessed to give than to receive." 
Primarily, it is a life of growth and 

Do you ask, If, then, we have already 


sufficient knowledge of the conditions of a 
future life, what value has this spiritual 
intercourse ? 

First, I answer, we all want to believe 
in the future life. Does not every added 
assurance make it appear more probable? 
If in the providence of God and the de- 
velopment of man we have reached a point 
where, to certain temperaments at least, 
" the veil between is taken away," may 
we not hope that it is perhaps a steadily 
growing possibility, yet to become an es- 
tablished fact? If I could learn all I 
might wish of that life ; if I could answer 
any question that I long to know, predict 
the future, and solve problems through 
spirit agency, — I should be unable to be- 
lieve that this experience has any grounds 
for faith, it would so destroy my reverence 


and the sense of infinite progress. But 
what I have been allowed to know seems 
to be in harmony with the highest, purest 
revelations of truth which have come to us 
through the intuition of the great thinkers 
and seers of all time. 

As the world " in the fulness of time " 
has received new dispensations, I believe 
that, more and more as we are able to 
receive it, we shall have continued testi- 
mony of the life to come, which shall 
stimulate our spiritual growth and increase 
our reverence and humility, emphasizing 
the truth, " Except ye become as little chil- 
dren ye shall in no wise enter therein." 

Is it not something to know that our 
loved ones are living; that if they were 
true and good, they have their reward in 
the companionship of radiant souls and 


in the joys of the higher life ; that having 
here built up the kingdom of heaven 
within them, they awoke at home? And 
how sweetly solemn is the thought that 
for the fallen and sin-sick there is such 
saving power ! 

Again you ask, " What particular sect 
seems to be the church ? " 

You will forgive my involuntary smile, 
though I do not wonder at your question. 
Verily, I have not received the faintest 
indication of any sect there. The shining 
ones have gathered, from all nations and 
religions, the pure and saintly of the 
ages, who have feared God, loved their 
brother, and worked righteousness. The 
condition there, depends solely upon prog- 
ress in the spiritual life, without any refer- 
ence to the helps which have been used. 


I have been sitting on the rocks this 
afternoon. Listening to the stirring har- 
monies of the ocean and watching the 
heavy barque laboriously " tacking " against 
an adverse wind, the steamer plying its 
steady way, or the luxurious yacht, so 
slight of build, bending under its overplus 
of sail, it seemed most fitting that the ocean 
should have ever symbolized the sea of life, 
— the promised land stretching away in the 
unseen distance, the sea, in its interchange 
of calm and storm, alike to all. The yacht, 
like the gay life of pleasure and sensuality, 
may founder, or reach its destination bat- 
tered and dismantled. The slow and pon- 
derous barque, like the conservative mind 
with its unwieldy dogmas and long cables 
of superstition, plodding laboriously against 
the free winds of Providence, that do not 


blow out of the past. Others, like the 
steamer, draw a spiritual force from the 
conserved energies of the ages, using her 
sails as helps when they can speed her 
on her way, but depending for steady 
progress upon the spirit and power which 
is constantly renewed in the furnace of 
the heart. And as the ship from year 
to year is improved in its model and 
appliances, so the progressive mind re- 
ceives new inspiration, and its passage 
is made quicker, happier, and safer 
by a larger knowledge and improved 

There is but one worship, there, and 
that, the soul's deep sense of need and 
gratitude, the conscious communion with 
the Father, in spirit and in truth. Words, 
symbols, music, are the spirit's tools, — 


essential and useful only as they serve to 
build the soul more stately mansions. 

To your final question, " Was Jesus God 
or man? What think ye of Christ?" I 
answer, I do not think, — I know. 

As the Egyptian in his reverence spoke 
not the name of Osiris "lest his name 
be lightly breathed on earth," so, dear 
friend, do I falter as I try to speak of him 
who in the providence of God was the 
highest and purest revelation of a spiritual 

Above the dim mists of superstition 
and materialism towers this majestic, co- 
lossal figure, mantled in holiness, his face 
all aglow with conscious, intimate com- 
munion with the Father, — the ideal sancti- 
fied soul. One with the Father, because 
filled with the Holy Spirit; the son, because 


living in the spirit, in harmony with the 
divine will, — " he hath left us an example 
that we should follow in his steps." Con- 
sider the beautiful spirituality with which 
he entered the future life ; and then, if 
imagination does not fail you, conceive 
of a progress of nineteen centuries from 
that starting-point ! Yet is he our elder 
Brother and our Friend ; and enthroned in 
the loving, grateful hearts of all who have 
been led by him into a higher life, he lives 
and works with that great company of 
holy souls, to lead humanity onward and 
upward into the perfect light. 

It were impossible, with our finite minds 
and limited powers of comparison outside, 
or rather inside, the physical, to conceive of 
the possibilities of progress there. Suffice 
it for me to say, that having seen such 


ineffable glory, I know that farther heights 
are beyond our present comprehension. 
Merciful it is, that they are veiled from 
our sight until we grow strong and pure 
enough to bear them. 


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